Gophers vs Spartans: 10 Things That Stood Out

Sep 21, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back David Cobb (27) rushes for a touchdown in the second half against the San Jose State Spartans at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 43-24. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

First of all let’s all point and laugh at this guy. What a clown!

The Gophers put together their most impressive victory of the season last Saturday by dispatching the San Jose State Spartans 43-24. The Gophers rushed for 353 yards, 151 of those coming from redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner. Leidner pulled off an excellent Tebow impression, rushing for four touchdowns. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan is calling him Tundra Tebow.

As we do after every Gopher game let’s take a look at five things I liked and five things I didn’t like from Saturday’s victory.

FIVE THINGS I LIKED:

1. Mitch Leidner’s Tim Tebow impression: I am a huge Tebow fan so to see Mitch Leidner play the way he did was exciting. I will gladly take 100-plus rushing yards and multiple TD’s from the quarterback every game. I love the way Leidner ran over and dragged defenders. This type of play can work in college, especially in the Big Ten.

2. Second half defensive adjustments: San Jose State quarterback David Fales lit up the Gopher defense in the first half. In the second half, he was completely held in check, outside of a garbage time drive, which resulted in a Fales to Chandler Jones touchdown pass to make the score 43-24,

3. The crowd at TCF Bank Stadium: For an 11 a.m. start, I thought the crowd represented itself very well. The attendance was 45,647, which was the biggest crowd of the season to date.  The crowd was lively on third downs and seemed energetic into the game, and that is not typical in a non-conference game.

4. The run defense: This was a huge area of concern going into the season and I’ve got to tell you the run defense has asserted itself just fine. Ra’Shede Hageman and Cameron Botticelli have been stout on the interior of the defensive line and Roland Johnson is no slouch either.  The linebackers move very well, especially De’Vondre Campbell who looks like Megatron at linebacker running down ball carriers.

5. KJ Maye: Maye showed a little burst with two catches for 39 yards, including a beautiful catch down the middle of the field.   He also had a couple end-arounds for 19 yards. Maye has the speed and burst that can be a difference maker in this offense, especially with the absence of Berkley Edwards. The Gophers need more explosive plays from Maye and it starts next week with Iowa.

FIVE THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:

1. The pass defense: Spartans quarterback David Fales threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns. To the defense of the defense, the throws Fales’ made were perfect. Sometimes you can’t defend a perfect throw and Fales was hitting receivers in stride. Still, I was a little queasy in the first half watching the Spartans offense move up and down the field through the air.

2. The passing game: You can make the argument that the Gophers didn’t need to throw the ball against San Jose State, which is true, but can we just show some evidence of a pulse in the passing game? We don’t have a go-to receiver and that could be a problem in Big Ten season. Leidner has only attempted 20 passes this year, completing 12 of them. The Gophers don’t have Maroney and Barber in the backfield so they are going to need to throw more than 10 passes in Big Ten games to win.

3. Chris Hawthorne: Hawthorne missed two extra point attempts and a 48 yard field goal. The Gophers are going to need him to make extra points and a few field goals come Big Ten season. If Hawthorne continues to struggle like he did last Saturday, a change could be made to one of two freshmen: Andrew Harte or Ryan Santoso.

4. The absence of Maxx Williams: You can make an argument that Maxx Williams is the Gophers best downfield weapon and he had zero catches. He needs to be more involved in the offense.

5. The lack of a pass rush: The Gophers didn’t register a sack. That will need to change come Big Ten season. The Gophers did generate a little more pressure in the second half, but it was the lack of pressure in the first half that allowed Fales to throw as effectively as he did.

Topics: Football, Gophers, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mitch Leidner

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